Thursday, November 4, 2010

4X Chocolate / Peanut Butter / Pecan Cookies

WARNING.  These contain nuts, eggs, sugar, chocolate and will lead to drinking milk or coffee at odd times of the day!!  

4X Chocolate / Peanut Butter Chip / Pecan Cookies:
                Recipe adapted from the Joy of Baking’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies!

My Batter.  Yummy!!

4 ounces chocolate, chopped, for melting purposes (I used Theo Chocolate’s Dark Nib and Vanilla Chocolates!)
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour **
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt**
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup raw or "white" sugar**
2 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup White Chocolate chips
1/2 cup Peanut Butter Chips
1 cup oven roasted pecans, chopped ( I put the pecans in a glass dish and in the oven during the preheat stage and roasted for about 15 minutes, leaving them to cool for a few before chopping them up and adding them to the cookies!)

** I do not have white granulated sugar or regular iodized table salt in my home.  Thus I use Sea Salt and Raw Sugar (organic too!).  I also use Whole Wheat Flour.  Every little thing counts, right??

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Melt the 4 ounces of chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
  5. In a large Bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy (using electric or hand mixer).
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add the melted chocolate and beat until well mixed.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  9. Then beat in the vanilla extract.
  10. Add the flour in stages, mixing until incorporated.
  11. Fold in the chips and nuts.
  12. *At this point, my dough was too runny, so I dusted the cookie batter with a few tablespoons of flour.
  13. Scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet (you can use parchment paper lined sheets for easier cleanup!
  14. Gently flatten the dough into 2” rounds.
  15. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the center is just about set in the center.  Cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack. 

 Yield about 20 cookies

Cookies before pressing into rounds.

Cookies Cooling, awaiting a glass of milk!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It's one of my favorite Months!!  Stews, Soups, Chowders, Roasts, Crockpots, and so many other slow simmering foods!  The cold crisp weather makes me want to snuggle up to a good book with a  cup of strong coffee or tea while simmering a warm me up lunch/dinner on the stove.  Of course I'd be sitting in front of my heater.  It would be a fireplace if I had one, but you do what you can with what you have!

Here's a quick Preview of what's coming this month:

1. Book Shopping.  You never know what you'll find at . . .
2. Elk Chili.  (Yes, it's that time of year)
3. Apple Stuffed Pork Loin
4. Fall Deserts (Apple Gallette, Muffins, and more!)
5. Pumpkin-Pecan Pie.  Sounds scrumptious eh?

Miss Tori waiting for her apples!
To top it all off, I'll be planning a Birthday Menu for my cold December Birthday.  I'll take any comments or suggestions on what kind of food to prepare, as you know it'll be some kind of grilled food with lots of spirits.  The Theme will be:  Going Back to the Ranch, the MMR that is!

All of you know when and where.  It's just what to make will be the question!

Cheers to a Happy November!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Seafood Chowder

So a while back I made some Seafood Chowder. I was planning on posting the recipe right away, but life happens.  So here's the back-story.  As a kid I was allergic to tomatoes, or so I thought.  So instead of tomato soup, I had canned clam chowder.  
Years ago, I made a clam linguine for friends after having it at a Little Italy (yes in NY) restaurant with Sukoshi Fahey and Don Graves during my first time in New York.  It changed my world.  I decided the world needed more clams!  

Thus came to the decision that I should make a heartier Clam Chowder.  Now over the years I've added things to the canned soup, herbs, more veggies, more clams.  But this time, I started with the ingredients, no can.  You see, since I quit smoking, I gained a bunch of weight.  Who the hell could blame me?  My dad died of lung cancer and I wasn’t a happy camper.   So, 30 lbs lost thus far since March and all I’ve been doing is revising my eating habits, walking, and keeping busy.  It also helps to have friends encourage you!  You can eat whatever you want, but with consequences.  I haven’t eaten a real hamburger in about 10 months.  I use turkey, chicken, fish (love salmon burgers) and finally I don’t crave it.  Same with Salt.  Have you ever looked at the sodium content in food?  It’s a preservative!  So, why not make it yourself.  Cut your sodium intake by 80%!  You’ll feel less bloated and have more energy!

So with those thoughts in my head, during a little cold and chilly afternoon, I was craving seafood and soup.  Homemade Clam Chowder time!  I knew I had mussels and shrimp in the freezer.  Had veggies in the fridge, all I needed was Cream, Clams and Oysters.  I got home from the store, ready to simmer! 

Here’s my rough recipe!  Feel free to add or subtract your favorite seafood!

BNB Seafood Chowder
1/2 lb. Shrimp
1 large can Clams in juice
1/4 lb Mussels
Few legs of Crab (optional)
1/4 lb of oysters - small cocktail will do; in water or oil
1/4 lb Bay Scallops
1 Red Onion
1 sticks celery
2 Potatoes
2 cloves garlic
Sea Salt
1 stick butter
1 cup cream
Clam Juice
Herbs (mixture of Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme, Chives, Basil)
Spices (Paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne)

Here’s my rough directions.  One thing you’ll need to remember is that these are estimates.  Feel free to add more or less of anything.  It’s not rocket science.  I use a pinch of this, little bit of that.  So here are the directions:

  1. Prep all your items.  Remove the shells and rinse seafood.  Chop the onion, celery, and garlic.  Make sure you reserve the liquids from the canned seafood.  If you don’t, you’ll need at least ½ cup of clam juice.
  2. In a 3 quart pan, Cook the shrimp, scallops, oysters, mussels and clams with some diced onion and garlic.  Add a few slices of butter and a pinch of sea salt.   Once pinked, make sure you chop into pieces (I use my kitchen scissors).
  3. Remove seafood from pan and set aside. 
  4. Add 2 cups of water to pan (with seafood juices) and the remaining reserved seafood can juices.   Reduce over a slow boil.
  5. In a separate pan, cook the celery and remaining onion and garlic until slightly soft.
  6. Cook the potatoes in the microwave, whole (the cheater method). Once done, dice. Careful, they’ll be hot!
  7. When the liquids are reduced by at least an inch, add potatoes, seafood, and celery mixture.
  8. Now it’s time to add the butter.  Add the remaining butter in cubes or slices, so it’s easier to melt.
  9. Slowly work the liquids up to a boil, and before it does boil, slowly add the cream.
  10. Stir, stir the mixture!  You don’t want the soup to break, so keep it to med-med/low. 
  11. Taste test.  Add more spices or herbs to your taste.  If the sauce needs more cream or butter, add now
  12.  Bring to a boil and reduce to low. 
  13. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, but I prefer an hour. 
  14. Serve with warmed garlic bread, grilled cheese or crackers!
  15. Once cooled, store in freezer jars to give to friends or for lunches!
  16. Reminder:  The longer it simmers, the stronger and thicker the soup!

Here’s how mine turned out:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time for Apples

It is apple season at my house.  Applesauce, Apple Crisp, Fresh Sliced Apples, Apple stuffed pork loin.  But my Summer Slaw turns to Fall Slaw with fresh Honeycrisp or Gala apples. 

Recently I hosted a Monday Night Football party.  Packers vs Bears.  The game was good, as was my food.  I didn't snap pics of the pulled pork (which was heavenly), but here's a viewing of the Slaw.  This is not your normal Slaw.  Actually, this is an old picture, but the same recipe.  It's getting colder here in the PNW, so this may have been the last time I make it this year.    

Books N Brew Apple Slaw

1 Package Fresh Express Angel Hair Cabbage Shreds (Fine shredded cabbage is a necessity)
1 Package Broccoli Slaw Mix
2 Fresh Apples
1 Peach
1/2 Red Onion (Optional)
Lemon juice
Walnuts or Pecans

3/4 cup Light Mayo
3/4 Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Organic or Raw Sugar (do not use White sugar.  I prefer Sugar in the Raw)
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Celery Seed

1/4 Cup diced peaches or Oranges.  
If using oranges, I recommend Satsuma, Mandarin or Tangelo. Cut off the rind (You can use some of the zest in the dressing too!) and cut into  1/2" pieces.

Whisk all ingredients of Dressing, cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Shake well before dressing the slaw. 

While the dressing is marrying together, prepare the slaw.  

Wash the Apples, peach, and onion with an organic fruit/veggie wash.

Using a Colander or Salad spinner, wash the slaw broccoli and cabbage mix.  I know it says it's washed, but just give it a quick rinse.  The reason I use a Salad Spinner is that I add my dressing on at plating.  If you want to serve a big bowl to a group, then once the mix is spun a few times to get the water out, transfer to a glass storage bowl.

Chop the onions into 1/4" pieces  (if using them) and add to bowl.

Using an apple corer, slice the apples and then chop into 1/2 chunks, leaving the skin on.  Make sure to remove any bruising.  Toss the apples with a little bit of lemon juice to prevent browning before putting in bowl.

Remove the pit from the peach and chop to 1/2 pieces, leaving the skin on.  Again, toss the pieces with the leftover lemon juice from the apples.  

If serving in the next hour, taste test the dressing.  It should be sweet, but a little tart-tangy too.  Adjust to your taste preference.  

For those platers out there, in a small bowl, toss the 1 cup of slaw ix to 1 tbsp of dressing.  Mix well and plate.  Top with crushed walnuts or pecans.

For those who want to serve a big bowl, 1/2 hour before service, add 1/2 the dressing to the storage bowl, mix well and chill for 20 minutes. If it needs more dressing, add more, but just enough to coat.  After 20 minutes, transfer to serving bowl, top with pecans and/or walnuts.  

Have the extra dressing in a nice bowl, so that if people want, they can dress up their coleslaw more.

This is a big hit with adults!  It may be too tangy-tart for children, so subbing 1/4 c of the vinegar for orange juice may juice it up more for them.  Feel free to experiment with this recipe.  I normally don't make the same one twice!  There's always room for improvement.  All I can say is that those who normally don't like coleslaw, love this!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Missy Kitty, The official Taste Tester

Many think that the barstool by my kitchen counter is for guests. Well that's true. But it's actually the official seat of the BNB Taste Tester. Missy is my 5 year old Russian/Havana Mix. She's a good girl whom, like others who sleep all day, have become fat and lazy. She no longer roams the farm to hunt mice, shrews, and birds. Her toys take up half the living room and she's a sucker for someone to pet her. But her favorite job is to watch me cook. She's not underfoot in the kitchen, as she knows that's my place. Her place is on the bar stool, where she can watch me.

Her favorites are meat, fish, and ice cream. She knows not to lick plates or get into your food (unless it's right in her face). Since I've been trying to limit the red meat in my diet, so is she. No more Friday Steak & Seafood. We've gotten into the Bocca American Grillers with Tomato and Avocado. She really likes the Boccas. Now before you get all upset that she's getting a portion of human food, know this. a 3 mm speck of food won't kill the kitty, she gets her good cat food, which already has these. And we try to balance out the meats with veggies. She loves to lick strawberry fingers (she may try to nibble them too!) and enjoys a romp in the fresh catnip. We grow grass so she can roll and play in it inside the apartment, and she just so happens to like roasted red pepper! When you see Missy Approved, that's because the cat likes it too!

Now for those who are interested in their cat being interactive in the kitchen with them, remember these rules:
1. No Kitties on the counter!
2. Give the Kitty a perch to sit on, so they can see what you're doing.
3. Place the tidbit on the stool or dish on the stool. No taking food from the hands (prevents biting).
4. Never give kitty scraps that you won't eat. Remember, delicate stomachs!
5. Only tidbits. These treats are supposed to be interactive. Great if you're feeling unappreciated or lonely. Talking to yourself also helps, but perhaps they'll start talking back too!
6. Encourage play after treat time! Those fat cats need to work off the 20 calories you've given them.
7. Tell them when there's no more. Just say, "Okay, that's all for now", and make sure you put the food away, else you're just teasing them.
8. Plenty of water, always fresh clean water.
9. No petting the cat when you're cooking. Who wants cat hair in their food?
10. Clean up after kitty. If they don't like it, they may spit it out, so wipe up the area during your normal cleaning.
Missy in her Crinkle Shoot Toy!

Hopefully you and your cat will enjoy this fun activity, just don't let others see you talking to your cat while you're cooking. It may be great for your ego to do so, just not in front of company. She should be entertaining the guests!!

September 2010

I haven't updated this wonderful blog with all the things I've been doing. What have I been doing, you ask? Fishing, Camping, Cooking, and most of all, having great adventures! I've come up with a few good new recipes. For example, for those that are cutting pasta, how about Turkey/Pork Meatballs in quick tomato sauce with Spinach? So yummy! Or Fruited Coleslaw with apples and peaches? It's fall, so my taste buds are yearning for stews and soups. I've got corn, potatoes and peppers. Harvest Corn Soup? You'll be the first to see it!

Also, the Books part of Books N Brew has improved! I've added a new addition to my living room, which now allows me to house more books and display them with the rest of my trinkets. Pictures to be added soon!

My health is a priority for me. Especially with mild cholesterol issues, weight issues, and the fact that I'm an ex-smoker trying to have as healthy as an immune system as I can. Sustainable living isn't for everyone, but I do my best to use local, organic, and as natural as can be. Next up will be about Full Circle Farms, my new CSA. And of course a shout out to the gals at Cafe Ladro, where I pick up my box every week. Can you say hot tea and granola? It's the best!

Stay Tuned!

Books N Brew

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

St. Patty's Day Dinner, 2010

If you don't know, I'm 3/4 Irish. I wear my green on St. Patrick's Day, I drink beer and sing along to any song on the radio. Growing up in an Irish Household is fun. You celebrate everything! And everyone gets together to partake in this feast. Unfortunately, our families grow and each branch does their own thing.

Three years ago, I decided I'd host my own little party. Just a few friends, some great food, both traditional Irish and Irish-American dishes. Many things stay the same, the desert always changes.

So here's the menu for St. Patrick's Day 2010

Irish "Bacon" with Cabbage and potatoes
Corned Beef with Cabbage and Carrots
Roasted Root Vegetables
Irish Champ
American Mashed Potatoes
Irish Soda Bread & American Butter
Irish Bangers (3x Guinness) with Onions
Irish Cheese and Hard Genoa Salami with Murphy Mustard
"Murphy" Mustard
Warmed Books N Brew Chipotle Dip
Apple - Walnut salad with BNB Mustard Vinaigrette
Banger Gravy
Fudge Brownies with Green Mint Frosting
"Green" Blondie-Fudge Brownie Cupcakes
Irish Coffees
Lots of Beer

Sounds like a daunting menu, right? It was. I did hours of Prep Friday night, got everything packed, slept well, then while loading the last box, Disaster struck. While walking with the last box the last few feet to my truck, I tripped off the sidewalk, rolled my ankle, smashed my knee into the curb and landed on my side. I felt nothing but shock. I screamed out a few curse words on my neighbor checked my ankle for breaks. Nothing broken, I made sure that everything was okay after my ungraceful tumble.
Thank you to my wonderful neighbor for going back up the three flights of stairs into my apartment and getting me ice packs and Advil. Sent a text to my friends and I was on the way. Suffice to say, I am only posting the menu tonight as the ankle is not hurting, but extremely swollen and I need to lay down.
Here's a few pictures of the meal to tide you over until I get the recipes uploaded!

And here is our famous bangers, getting ready to bake in some Guinness!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Single Tradition, Fridays

No matter what happens during the week, and what is scheduled for the weekend, Friday night is my night. It's Food Time. I'm a 31 year old single gal and I love to cook. My routine starts after work, at one of the numerous grocery stores. I see what's fresh, what's on sale, and what would make a good dinner, for myself.

Some Fridays it's steak & seafood. Some it's just seafood, and sometimes, the store is for the few things that my fridge doesn't have in it.

Take today for example. I'm doing the St. Paddy's Dash in Seattle on Sunday. Am I ready for it? Heck no. But I'm doing it. Why? I need some exercise and I'm 75% Irish. I did it last year, even trained for it, but this year I'm winging it. I'll take some aleve and walk most of the way, but I'll do it.

So for tonights menu, I knew I had thin cut boneless pork steaks. It was either cook or toss, so some salt, lemon juice, pepper, dried rosemary (from last year's crop), fresh thyme (this year's start), and a little shake of the Cajun Foreplay. I knew I wanted some pasta. I have many kinds of noodles, but then I saw the Farfalle. So I boiled up some water, heated the garlic in the pork pan, and started on my Pasta Fresca. Here's how it ended up:

Just sear the pork on each side, add some onions and water and let cook until the water evaporates! The pasta is just cooked farfalle, fresh cut raw veggies, and a little of my homemade alfredo sauce.

Here's my Friday receipe for Pasta Fresca with a touch of alfredo sauce

1 cup Farfalle Pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
1 small ripe tomatoe, chopped
3 1/2" slices avocado, chopped
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves roasted garlic, sliced (from the pork pan - see pork receipe)
1/4 cup asparagus heads (Raw or aldente)
1/4 thinly sliced red onion
8 Basil leaves - Fresh and sliced
Lemon Juice
Sea Salt
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

Alfredo Sauce
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp half n half
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tsp sea salt

While the pasta cooks in sea salted water, chop up the veggies and place them in a large glass bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash or two of sea salt (NEVER use regular table salt!), a few sprigs of parsley, and about 1 TBSP of olive oil to coat. Mix well. Toss in 1 TBSP of Parmesan cheese and let rest until pasta is cooked.

Once pasta is cooked - slightly al dente, rinse with cold water, and let sit for about 1 minute before tossing in with veggies.

While pasta is sitting, add the butter to pasta pan. Let cook until it just about turns brown, then add the half n half. Swish the half and half around and then dump the parmesan in the center, mix, and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and if needed, a squeeze of lemon juice. Once it's coated well to the pan, remove from heat and pour over pasta mixture.

Toss to coat the pasta and serve.

Friday Pork

Boneless cut of pork with fat trimmed off.
Sea Salt
Coarse ground pepper
Dried Rosemary
Fresh Thyme
Lemon Juice
Cajun Foreplay (to add a little heat)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Olive oil

Season pork chops with all but garlic and olive oil. Set on counter and heat pan to medium. Place whole peeled cloves of garlic in pan and let them sweat for about 3-4 minutes, or until browned.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil and once garlic "pops", remove from pan to cool and use in pasta.

Add Pork and sear both sides. Add red onion and 1/2 cup water. Cook until water evaporates. If using thick cuts of pork, add more water, cover and steam additional 10 minutes, or until pork is cooked to your liking.

I look forward to posting more Friday Dinners.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Banana French Toast

Here's one of my favorites in the summer.

Banana French Toast

For Each Person you’re serving:

2 pieces of Hawaiian Bread
1 Banana
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup (The Real Stuff)
2 Tbsp Butter
¼ Cup Milk (Any Style, but not Non-Fat)
1 tsp cinnamon

Maple Syrup
Powdered Sugar

Optional: whip cream, sliced strawberries

First, Slice the Banana, mix with brown sugar, and cook over med-low heat with 1 tbsp butter until softened and slightly browned.

Remove from heat.

Take 1/3 of this mixture and in a bowl, mix with eggs, Milk, maple syrup, and cinnamon.

Dredge bread (both sides) through Mixture and set on parchment paper for up to 1 minute.

Place in pre-heated griddle or skillet with 1 tbsp butter for about 1 minute per side, or until browned.

Serve warm with warmed bananas, maple syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Optional: Add sliced strawberries and cinnamon whipped cream!

The basic principle of Books N Brew is why buy it when you can make it yourself? Food tastes better when it's made in your own kitchen, or at least in my kitchen.

Have you ever browsed the grocery frozen entree section, just to see what you can make at home? That is what I do. I look at soups, deli counters, pre-packaged meals, then recreate them, with as many fresh ingredients as I can.

I live in a great culinary area (Edmonds, WA) and between my cat and I, we tend to eat very well!

I also read all the time and have my own collection of books. So stop on by and see what we're brewing up and reading!

Someone once asked me, 'What do you eat when you're stressed?'. Eat? I cook. Then I read.

Edmonds, WA